United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
William Ray Fisher, Plaintiff, Pro se, Clemmons, NC.
For The Winston Salem Police Dept., Defendant: ANTHONY J. BAKER, CITY OF WINSTON-SALEM NORTH CAROLINA, Winston-Salem, NC.
For Sgt. Tony Perkins, Scott Cunningham, CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE WINSTON SALEM POLICE DEPT., Cliff Cranford, INVESTIGATOR FOR THE WINSTON SALEM POLICE DEPT., Defendants: JAMES R. MORGAN, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, WOMBLE CARLYLE SANDRIDGE & RICE, PLLC, Winston-Salem, NC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
James A. Beaty Jr., United States District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge that this action filed by Plaintiff William Ray Fisher (" Plaintiff" ) be dismissed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this Court deny Plaintiff's Motion to Amend [Doc. #23], grant the Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #8] filed by Defendants Cliff Cranford, Scott Cunningham, and Tony Perkins in their individual capacities (" Individual Defendants" ), and grant the Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #14] filed by the Winston-Salem Police Department and the Individual Defendants in their official capacities (" Official Defendants" ). The Magistrate Judge's Memorandum Opinion and Recommendation [Doc. #26] was filed on March 28, 2014, and notice was served on the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
On April 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed timely Objections [Doc. #28] to the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation, to which Individual Defendants filed a Response [Doc. #29] and Official Defendants filed a Response [Doc. #30]. The Court has now reviewed de novo the Objections and the portions of the Recommendation to which Objections were made. For the reasons explained herein, this Court adopts in part,
and modifies in part, the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff brings claims of age discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (" ADEA" ). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendants hired younger and less qualified applicants instead of Plaintiff, due to his age. Individual Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #8], seeking dismissal based on a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to exhaust administrative remedies against them. Official Defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #14], seeking dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(4), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6).
The Magistrate Judge recommends granting both Motions to Dismiss. (Mem. Op. & Order [Doc. #26].) Specifically, he recommends granting Individual Defendants' Motion [Doc. #8], because Plaintiff does not dispute that Individual Defendants were not named in his EEOC charge, and therefore, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over them. (Id. at 11.) The Magistrate Judge also recommends granting Individual Defendants' Motion [Doc. #8], because these individuals do not qualify as " employers," as required to be liable under the ADEA. (Id. at 11-12.) Finally, the Magistrate Judge recommends granting Official Defendants' Motion [Doc. #14], because Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. ( Id. at 4-11.) Because the Magistrate Judge recommended dismissal on 12(b)(6) grounds, he did not address Official Defendants' other alleged bases for dismissal. This Court will first consider the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation as to Official Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, followed by Plaintiff's Motion to Amend and Individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Fourth Circuit has directed that courts " 'take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,' but '[they] need not accept the legal conclusions drawn from the facts,' and '[they] need not accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.'" Giarratano v. Johnson,521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Eastern Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship,213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000)). " To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal,5 ...